Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How I accidentally didn't write this week's Torchwood

Just over a year ago, I was one of the writers on the BBC's fictional Torchwood website (along with TV's Helen Raynor and TV's Joseph Lidster), coming up with silly fictional things from Torchwood's history. One of these stories was about how Torchwood kept a man frozen in the cellar. They'd defrost him once a year, give him a day out, and then pop him back in the freezer. No-one knew why he was there, they were just waiting for his time to come.

The script editor of the site was Helen Raynor, who said rather kindly, "That's a good idea, you should do something with that."

A few months later, we're sat in my flat. We're talking mostly about how vodka and cherryade is the best drink ever. Helen isn't convinced, but being a trained script editor, is keeping her face pleasantly neutral as she sips away with barely a shudder. Helen is casting around for ideas for her next Torchwood. I pipe up about the man in the freezer. Helen says something terribly polite, and that she'd like to look into it as an option, if I wouldn't mind, and are there any more onion rings?

I wake up the next morning mostly wishing I'd cleaned my teeth better, as my mouth tastes of cherryade and onions. But there's a vague feeling of excitement.

A few days later I get a curiously legal email from a script editor on Torchwood asking about contracts, rights and contributors on the Torchwood website. I reply formally, adding at the bottom "If this means what I think it does, then yes I did, yes you own it, and I'm delighted".

That afternoon Helen comes thundering down a corridor and takes me outside for a cigarette. There's snow and Derek Jacobi everywhere. She's brutally honest - the idea is loved, it's being changed almost completely, and there's talk of giving me some credit, but that'll go nowhere.

A few weeks later she gives me a script - which is brilliant and moving, and has taken a tiny idea and changed it into a horror-ghosty-romance-drama. Wow. I get to feel immensely proud, but without being able to claim any credit for the achievement. This must be what Take That's aunts feel like.

A few months later, I get to see a rough cut of it, and gush with mildly fraudulent pride - just as Jordan must when she sees one of her books.

So there you go. Helen's done a lovely thing. At the end of the day, I don't get an on screen credit - but I do get to be enormously pleased.

This blog post was written by James Goss
From an original idea by Helen Raynor

Monday, January 28, 2008

Miscasting muscle

So, Tim and I are at the theatre, watching Absurd Person Singular. Lovely play, marble pillars, Jane Horrocks etc etc. All is going well, until...

You see, the play is all about the quiet triumph of a mildly vulgar, vaguely weedy man. Yet, half way through the play, he gets wet and has to take his shirt off, humiliated in a crumpled old sleeveless vest, only...

He had steroid Mary arms. Enormous things you could crush the Terminator with.

The audience made a noise. It wasn't so much "ooh!" as "oh". His arms were completely wrong for the part. I mean, clearly "well done him for having a very good trainer etc etc" but also "i can no longer take you seriously as Sidney the put-upon shopkeeper".

Afterwards, Tim and I went for a po mo, ironic drink at 79 CXR. Forgetting that the last time we'd done this, neither of us laughed. My favourite barman was there, the one i'd had a crush on for years. I told Tim how I'd eventually realised he was going out with a sumo wrestler, which meant I could never be a) Japanese enough or b) fat enough.

There was also a very obvious rent boy in there, which was kind of saddening. The place is currently decorated with elaborate paper lampshades, which I used to rather like. And the toilets really do smell very strongly of vanilla, which is quite sweet, but doesn't take away from how unnerving it is trying to pee in them. I marched in, found a corner of an empty urinal and stood there, my body language saying quite firmly "please, just let me pee and go". Curiously, in the time it took, a man had managed to wander across to the washbasin, and was standing fiddling furiously with himself in the mirror, clearly hoping on some kind of Angle-of-incidence = Angle-of-refraction thing would come into play. I didn't wash my hands.

Monday, January 21, 2008


It's a lacklustre time of year. I suddenly realised the highlight of Sunday afternoon was going to be returning a non-Vista-compliant peripheral.

Sadly, after
  • Two young lawyers
  • One thrillingly inexperienced bisexual called Jake
  • And a muscly Columbian

I was still vaguely bored. *sighs* Perhaps i should re-read Jane Austen or something.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Prince Charming

This was on at the gym this morning. I saw this video when I was a kid, but I've never, you know, watched it.

It begins with Adam as a male Cinderella. Now, the prime question of any visual artwor is "Would you do him?". The answer here has to be "no". He looks like a bored mechanic trapped in a nightmare world where dry ice is red.

Cut to bored fat man with a large harp. Freaky.

Suddenly - it's a tiny harp. Freakier.

Back in the cellar, Adam's two gay best friends have dropped by on their way out for some cocaine and syphillis. Clearly, they regard him as an endearing bit of street rough. Especially the one on the right.

Adam spends the evening stroking his toy cat. His ugly sisters take his cat away, at which point two more gay friends turn up to console him. The sisters are then invited to the Ball, leaving Adam behind.

All four of Adam's gay friends console him while he plays with his toy car. The situation seems hopeless.

There's a flash of light, and fairy godmother Diana Dors descends on a cloud powered by go-go boys.

We cut back to Adam, whose rubbing-eyes-in-disbelief acting is quite the worst ever performed and explains why he never got a musical role in the wilderness years.

Diana Dors transforms his toy cat into a panther, his toy car into a pink Rolls, and then changes Adam into Adam Ant. He's much more do-able and can now go to the party.

Much is made of the following scene by music video critics. Or I imagine is, if i'd ever read any. A ballroom full of frozen people is rightly the stuff of nightmares.

Or is it? Look at the woman on the left's hair. I know it was the 80s, but what was she thinking? Fag hag.

Adam appears on a balcony, sails across the tiled floor on a chandelier and breaks a mirror. It's a bit more complex than that, but it's an image that's been knicked countless times (one of my earliest memories was of a character in Doctor Who who did the same thing a few months later). Indeed, now you can hardly glimpse a dancefloor without assuming there'll be a big broken glass moment.

Of course, before the glass is broken, Adam has to lead everyone in the Prince Charming dance.

Even Diana Dors does the Prince Charming. Wearing a smile that says, very clearly, "I like cock."

Adam then climbs above the crowd, up a staircase full of smoke. This is nightmarish enough, and then the crowd fades away. Gah!

Adam now breaks the mirror and then dresses up as Clint Eastwood, Kiss and Lawrence of Arabia. All proving, I guess, that you can look as silly as you like if you gaze beyond the mirror. Adam has forgotten himself, and thus shown us he's handsome.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Breakfast Time is 25

So it's 8am, I'm at the gym, hungover and trying not to throw up over my personal trainer. And then I realise that Breakfast Television is somehow wrong. Everyone is wearing sweaters, they've even got the old clock back. And suddenly the world seemed a little better.

"Anyway," said my trainer, "My idea is for a book about super intelligent mutant cows. See - mankind advanced because of oppposable thumbs. So, I'm thinking opposable hooves. And guns. They get really big guns. But they get taken down in the end - cos some good cows from India come over and stop them. My girlfriend likes it."

Monday, January 14, 2008


Much the same as last year really. Lots of pretty people shoot in the general direction of some CGI while Douglas thing mumbles incoherently away, like gravel with a grudge.

Interestingly, she from S Club and her chinless boyfriend turned up on the Jonathan Ross show. He was dressed as a grown-up, and she was dressed as a hooker.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Meanwhile, on The Archers...

I listen to the Archers cycling home, headphones secrued by my helmet. This means I can't rip them out of my ears whenever Will Grundy's drippy new girlfriend opens her mouth.

So, if a raddled gay pedalled past you shouting "shutup!shutup!shutup!" at 7pm last night, now you know.

Seriously, it's all go in England's rural portal to hell. First ghastly Shiobhan had cancer. Or rather, it's fairer to say that cancer had Shiobhan. She managed to be irritating even in a coma, which is surely a first for radio.

With Shiobhan out of the way, Brian and St Jenny of Martyr have to bring up Rory, the genetic hellspawn of Shiobhan and Brian Aldridge. If he's not wetting the bed he's asking what death is ("Well, it's like when Mr Badger said goodbye to all his friends and went down the very long tunnel" explains Brian helpfully).

Dull gays Ian and Adam still manage to tick the box without stuffing it. Adam hired another load of Polish strawberry pickers without incident, and Ian decorated the living room in Japanese style. Oh, and they got married.

Jacks' still mad, drunken soak Lillian may be losing Matt to a local newt expert, and Vile Kenton has smoothly managed to make his girlfriend's rape all about him.

Elsewhere in Ambridge, Linda Snell's failed to burst into flames, and Shula hasn't yet grown angel's wings, but it's surely just a matter of time.


"oh, i dunno," says Sunday's date. We're standing in Old Compton Street. It is raining. He is very tall and blonde. "I hardly ever come out on the scene. You pick somewhere."

"What about that cafe?" I suggest.

He nods. "Or we could go to the Edge. I've heard it's good."

We go to the Edge. All the staff know his name. The barman tells me I've got his order wrong.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Overheard in SoHo, Sunday

GAY #1: So, I've finished my novel.

GAY #2: Great.

GAY #1: Only, you know how it was supposed to be about the truth at the heart of gay relationships? Well, it's now just hard core gay porn.

GAY #2: Really? How are your employers about that?

GAY #1: Yeah. I don't think Number 10 Downing Street will be very pleased.

GAY #2: Oh. Can't you publish your hard code porn under a false name?

GAY #1: Thing is, it's like my oeuvre...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tetley Redbush

Oh Mama Bimkubwa, do you think Tetley are now having second thoughts about a patronising advertising campaign that portrays Africans as gently gnomic simpletons who live in harmony with the world?

Never mind - here's a charming video of a cat drinking redbush tea. It's a much better advert.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Favourite thing of 2008 so far

Marlboro Ultra Lights. Just when you start to think "well, maybe I should give up" along come these beauties and you don't have to. Isn't science marvellous?

There's nothing like a real fire

... it appears to melt the clothes off boys.

Sadly, none of my shags so far this year have been amusing. Just rather fun, really. Oh, and the Nurse and I managed to pick up a couple of astonishing things in the sales. But that is all, really.

I'll make more of an effort soon. It's like a new year's resolution.